Summary: God determined the death of Jesus to rescue his people from death and hell.

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Scripture Introduction

Genesis 3.15 first mentions the sacrificial death of the Messiah: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

The promises continue through the Old Testament, often by types and symbols. The sacrifices so central to Israel’s religious rites illustrate the interposition of innocent blood between God and mankind. The synagogue and temple, with their holiest places, prefigure a hope that we would one day reenter the presence of God, cleansed from sin by the ministry of the high priest. And maybe the greatest picture of all, Isaac carrying his tree of death to the top of the mountain - until God himself provides the sacrifice.

Then there are passages like Daniel 9, which (though cryptic) hint of the atoning death of Messiah: "Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing" (Daniel 9.25-26).

Some texts are more explicit. Zechariah 13.7: "’Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,’ declares the Lord of hosts. ’Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’" Psalm 16.10: "For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption." Zechariah 12.10: "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child...." And one of the most direct, Isaiah 53.5,12: "He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.... Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors."

In fact, the Bible teaches so clearly the death of Messiah for his people, that Jesus seems incredulous his disciples missed it: "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Luke 24.25). And the apostle Paul insists it is a matter of first importance: "that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures" (1Corinthians 15.3).

With this background, we might expect Jesus’ hours on the cross to fulfill some specific Scriptures. And as John describes the crucifixion, he mentions four times that all happened as prophesied in the Old Testament.

[Read John 19.17-42. Pray.]


Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a New York Times bestseller exploring the problem of evil and suffering. When Bad Things Happen to Good People claims that readers of the "parable of Job" want three things to be true. We want to believe that:

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